Rather than a pastiche of 1980s slasher films, this is a homage to a genre that has never really disappeared, so but for the odd make-up or clothing decision, there is little to distinguish between Lost After Dark and any other teens-in-peril flick of recent years. And while there is plenty to enjoy among the performances, the plot seems determined to undermine everything the cast achieve.
Adrienne (Kendra Leigh Timmins) and seven friends misappropriate a school bus and head off for her father’s empty holiday cabin, but before they arrive the bus runs out of gas and the kids find themselves stranded in the forest. Before long they discover an apparently abandoned house and decide to settle in for the night, but as is the way in these stories, it is actually the home of the infamous Joad family, and junior isn’t as deceased as the authorities assumed...
The cast attack the material with commendable gusto, and while the roles they’re playing are entirely the archetypes you’d expect, the actors at least imbue each of the characters with enough personality that you care in which order they are going to die. It is to the film’s credit that the order isn’t entirely predictable, although there is a moment that completely spoils the surprise over which one will ultimately survive. Conversely, the script gives them very little beyond the minimum you’d expect, and while the whole thing is played with good humour, it is also presented without enough actual humour to make the endeavour seem worthwhile.
There is a “girls practising kissing” scene straight out of 1999’s Cruel Intentions, and a “technical glitch” we’ve seen before in 1990’s Gremlins 2, which is barely signalled beforehand and in the absence of any other postmodernism, takes you right out of the fiction. The overwhelming impression, particularly given the lack of any classic 1980s hits on the soundtrack and the very subdued approach towards kitting out the cast in overtly 1980s fashion, is of a production that lacks the courage of its convictions. Such that the idea of doing a 1980s slasher flick became less attractive once the cast and crew had assembled to make it, perhaps.
The last twenty minutes includes a number of retro touches, such as the arrival and subsequent fate of Robert Patrick and the expository cameo from Rick Rosenthal as the Sheriff, but by this stage it’s hard to really care beyond the simple pleasure of watching a cheap but competent shocker. Even the murders are crafted with considerably less invention than you might expect, and the chances are that as much as you might enjoy Lost After Dark, you’ll probably forget the entire thing the minute it’s finished.
LOST AFTER DARK / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: IAN KESSNER / SCREENPLAY: BO RANSDELL, IAN KESSNER / STARRING: ELISE GATIEN, ROBERT PATRICK, EVE HARLOW, JUSTIN KELLY, MARK WIEBE, JESSE CAMACHO / RELEASE DATE: 29TH FEBRUARY